Michael S. Peterson: Grandmaster/ Founder
In 1984, GM Peterson started his martial arts journey in his home town of Los Angeles, California, and opened The Inner Circle in Florence, Kentucky in 2004.
He is founder (7th dan, Soke) and Grandmaster of the Attsuuten-ryu kempo-jutsu fighting system, and also holds a 5th degree black belt (godan) under the International Martial Arts Council of America in the art of Ryukyu kempo, to include Kyusho-jitsu (pressure point fighting) and Tuite-jitsu (joint manipulation and pressure point grappling). He holds a black belt in Isshin ryu karate, a 2nd degree black belt in American Combative Jujitsu, and a first grade black belt in Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrima.
His highest honor is being ranked an IMB Academy “Master Instructor” by his late instructor, and original student of Bruce Lee, the honorable Sigung Richard S. Bustillo. He has been given the title of 2nd generation instructor of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, and, more importantly, been entrusted by Sigung Bustillo to uphold Bruce Lee’s great name and legacy.
He is a full instructor in the Israeli military fighting system of Krav Maga, and has been ranked “Expert” level under the International Association of Krav Maga. He is considered one of the foremost experts in the tactical implementation of the karambit, and is the only person to have ever been inducted into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame as a “Tactical Karambit Master Instructor”. He is also ranked “Master Instructor” in the American Black Ops program… the system that is used by our very own U.S. Capitol Police.
He holds the position of Regional Representative for the International Martial Arts Council of America (IMAC), and has sat on the IMAC Grandmasters Council for the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame since 2008. He was given the title of “IMB Ambassador” under the International Martial Arts Council of America and the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July of 2017. He has received an honorary Ph.D. in Martial Arts Philosophy from the University of Asian Martial Arts Studies, Department of Martial Arts Affairs, recognized by the International Council/Chapter of Higher Martial Arts Education.
GM Peterson teaches real-world self-defense to students of all ages. He has hosted many successful seminars on practical women’s self-defense and rape prevention, and has given seminars on pressure point control tactics and deadly weapons disarmament to local law enforcement, EMS, Homeland security agents and Government employees. He has also developed and taught many different daycare martial arts programs for children in and around the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. He is a proud, honorably discharged United States Marine Corps combat veteran, and has been inducted 9 times into 2 different Martial Arts Hall of Fames.
His “no-nonsense” methods of self-defense are recognized internationally and are the result of many years of dedicated training and real-life experiences. They are extremely practical, with no unnecessary or “flashy” movements that you have to be an acrobat to perform. His techniques are NOT based on strength; rather they are derived from proven methods handed down from generation to generation in very tight-knit circles that focus on turning your attacker into the victim. It is his goal to better educate the general public, both child AND adult, in the simplicity of practical and effective situational self-defense.
In his off-time, he enjoys playing bass guitar, and riding his motorcycles.
Chris Hamon: Chief Instructor
Chris has been training at the Inner Circle since 2011, and is a black belt ranked “Full Instructor” in our kempo program. He is a Phase 2 student in Lee Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, a level 3 instructor in Israeli Krav Maga, and an associate instructor under the World Tactical Karambit Association. Chris uses his extensive martial arts knowledge to teach all of our adult classes. He also teaches the Harimau Berantai Silat classes, and is ranked directly under Professor Jak Othman. He is an excellent instructor, and likes to focus on the little details, and fine tune the students to become the best that they can be. Chris was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July of 2017.
Chris enjoys playing guitar in his off-time, and has even recorded with a local band.
Sandra Gustafson: Sr. Instructor
Sandra started her martial arts training in ATA Taekwondo, and attained a black belt rank in 1998. She has been training at the Inner Circle since 2011, and was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July of 2017. She is a Phase 2 student in Lee Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, a level 3 instructor in Israeli Krav Maga, and an associate instructor under the World Tactical Karambit Association. She also teaches the Harimau Berantai Silat classes, and is ranked directly under Professor Jak Othman. Sandra has proven to be an exceptional instructor for our adult classes.
Sandra is a registered nurse, and in her off-time, she enjoys reading while her ferrets run around the house. She is also a huge Star Wars fan.
Bailey Peterson: Chief Instructor- Kids’ Kempo
Bailey has been studying Okinawan Kempo since 2002. She attained a black belt ranking in 2014, and a 2nd degree black belt in 2018. She has also completed the Phase 1 student requirements in Lee Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. Bailey is the Head Instructor for our kids’ Kempo classes, and connects with the children in a way that helps promote their positive growth and development. She was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2014 as “Black Belt of the Year”, and is an Honor Roll graduate of Boone County High School.
Bailey enjoys spending her off-time with friends or at church, where she has been involved as a missionary to Nicaragua, and is a YoungLife Leader. She is an accomplished artist and an animal lover at heart, and is working in the field of Environmental Science while attending Northern Kentucky University.
Andrew Collins: Sr. Instructor- Kids’ Kempo
Andrew has been training at the Inner Circle since 2011. He is a black belt in Okinawan kempo, a Phase 1 student in Lee Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, and a level 2 instructor in Israeli Krav Maga. Andrew is extremely knowledgeable in the specifics when it comes to teaching our kids’ Kempo classes, and also helps teach our Krav Maga classes. He spends many of his evenings at the Academy, and also works for a private security company at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International airport.
Andrew currently serves our country in the Army National Guard, and enjoys playing guitar in his off-time. He studied music as a student at Northern Kentucky University.
Austin Baker: Jr. Instructor- Kids’ Kempo
Austin has been studying Okinawan Kempo at the Inner Circle for 5 years. He has a Shorin-Ryu background, and has recently started supplementing his Kempo with Lee Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. He is a bright and talented young man who brings his unique style of fun and excitement to the kids’ Kempo classes.
He is pursuing a future as a massage therapist through Gateway Community & Technical College, with his long-term goal set at becoming a chiropractor. In his off-time, he enjoys sitting down with a good book, hanging out with his family, and practicing his martial arts.